A study carried out by researchers in Germany has shown that pregnant women who undergo chemotherapy treatment for cancer do not risk passing on birth defects or other health issues to their babies, reports the Daily Mail.
Researchers from the German Breast Group looked at more than 400 women from across Europe who were diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer while pregnant. Half underwent chemotherapy during pregnancy.
Babies whose mothers underwent chemotherapy while pregnant had, on average, a lower birth weight but there were few other noticeable differences, according to a report in The Lancet Oncology journal.
Around 2,000 pregnancies a year are affected by cancer, with mothers often having to make difficult decisions. Some opt for an abortion if they are newly pregnant, while others refuse treatment until after the baby is born. Some women are delivered preterm to allow them receive treatment.
Professor Sibylle Loibl of the German Breast Group said that preterm babies were more at risk of health issues and that the findings emphasised the importance of prioritising a full-term delivery in women who undergo chemotherapy while pregnant.
“This is an important clinical message because the decision to deliver the foetus preterm is often taken without medical indication.
“Our work suggests that treating patients with breast cancer while pregnant is possible, and there is no need to interrupt the pregnancy or receive inferior therapy,” she said.